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Assuring the chemical and microbial safety of organic waste spread on land in Ireland – metal(oid)s and nutrients

   Civil Engineering

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  Prof Mark Healy  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


This project (SAFEWASTE) will help support the use of animal waste, wastewater treatment sludge and other relevant wastes as organic fertilisers in agriculture by ensuring they are free of chemical and biological hazards, thereby protecting food safety and public health. The overall project is highly multidisciplinary and involves researchers from Teagasc, NUI Galway, TU-Dublin and UCD. It will (1) deliver new data on the types, prevalence and concentrations of chemical and biological hazards in wastes intended for land spreading in Ireland (2) provide a novel risk-ranking approach to identify the waste-hazard combinations that should be prioritised to achieve maximum food safety/public health protection and validated methods to control these hazards (3) identify risk pathways, differences in policy and practice for controlling chemical hazards in wastewater treatment sludge, the effect of food processing on each hazard, the most appropriate land application method(s) to minimise the risk of food contamination and the impact of waste spreading on soil microbiota.

The PhD student recruited in this project will focus on metal(oid) and nutrient content of various waste types to be spread on agricultural land. The student will be registered and based at NUI Galway.

Working closely with other PhD students within the SAFEWASTE project, the candidate will: (1) conduct a survey of chemical hazards in various agricultural wastes intended for land spreading in Ireland (2) investigate the effectiveness of strategies to reduce or eliminate chemical hazards in waste materials intended for land spreading (3) develop a decision support tool to identify an optimal means in which organic waste materials may be applied safely to land and within the regulatory limits (3) investigate the difference between regulatory requirements and current practice in controlling metal(oids), disinfectants, general biocides and other relevant chemical hazards in agricultural wastewater treatment sludge and other relevant wastes.


Applicants should have a good primary degree (First or Second Class Honours) or M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline (Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Science, Chemistry, Soil Science, Civil/Environmental Engineering, etc.) The successful candidates should be highly self-motivated and be prepared for laboratory work and extended periods of field work with modern analytical equipment. Evidence (scanned document) of a full and valid driving licence is required. This is vital to enable fieldwork to be conducted by the candidate. Applications without this will not be considered.


The student will work under the supervision of Dr Liam Morrison and Prof Mark Healy (NUI Galway), and Dr Martin Danaher and Prof Owen Fenton (Teagasc). The Fellowship will start as soon as possible after the most suitable candidate is selected.

The fellowship provides a yearly stipend of €24,000. University fees are paid by the student from the stipend which is tenable for 4 years.

Application Procedure

Submit an electronic copy of Curriculum Vitae and a letter of interest to: Prof Mark Healy ([Email Address Removed])

Closing time and date

17:00 on September 2, 2022

Funding Notes

PhD is funded by the Irish EPA. We welcome applications from all candidates worldwide.
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